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May 26, 2021

A spirit of enquiry

Our challenge today is figuring out ways to ignite and flame the spirit of inquiry in children.
Our children are ‘switched on’, engaging in very different ways than they have done previously. When they are engaged in play we hope that they do more than just memorise facts and reiterate the thoughts and findings of the adults they are engaging with.
Our hope should be to take their natural curiosity and let them fly with it. Play is often shaped by adults who feel like they should be ‘in charge’, ‘in control’. We need to be brave, to step back and let the children wonder.

This little peg gathering. Just place something out in a little nook somewhere in the playroom. Don’t draw attention to it, don’t suggest the children notice it. Just leave it and sit back and notice the children actions, emotions and words in response to your provocation.
Curiosity drives learning. A curious child will ask questions, come up with their own solutions and seek to test the results to find out if their idea is the right one. Curiosity, awe and wonder engages our children in thinking creatively.
When our children are involved in creative thinking they are developing transferable cognitive skills.
Through invitations to play we are offering the possibility to develop our children’s knowledge and understanding of how the world works, how they can positively manipulate their world through exploration and investigation.
As our children play in provocative and interesting environments they begin to analyse, they question why, how, what…

A few days later place out a different group of creatures. Let the children spirit of enquiry kick in.
As children investigate and make discoveries during their play they begin to apply the skills they develop in a wide variety of ways, if encouraged. We should consider environments that support and enable the application of the skills and knowledge each child is developing. Not over planned but spaces created with possibilities!

Two little animals made out of spoons. A duck and a mouse. What brings them together? Why are they made out of spoons? Who do they belong to? How did they get here?
As children become absorbed in deep play children can begin to combine separate ideas to form new concepts.  Our hope is that we will see our children reflect and recall their thinking and learning.
If we encourage and allow each child to share their creative ideas, to shape and form their opinions on what best way to go about their play the more their confidence develops. We should all be aiming for each child to develop a strong desire to lead their own play and hone their spirit of enquiry.
Don’t forget you can share your thoughts and ideas with us on instagram or share your photos on our facebook!
As we move past 2020 into the new year with recent news of vaccines and new lockdowns there have no doubt been mixed feelings! I wanted to write a wee post considering Happiness and how we can remind ourselves what can contribute to our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, as well as our children’s of course. It’s not an easy time so these are just some observations and suggestions, at the end of the day everyone is different, and you will all have strategies yourselves, but here are little thoughts around what the research points to!

Positive Relationships

Express your heartConnect. People who have one or more close friendships are happier. It doesn’t necessarily matter if we have a large network of relationships or not. What seems to make a difference is if and how often we cooperate in activities and share our personal feelings with a friend or relative, even just one or a few. So, fostering the relationships that we enjoy, even if it’s digitally, can make a huge difference to our Happiness.

Acts of Kindness

Cultivate kindness! People who volunteer or simply care for others on a consistent basis seem to be happier and less depressed. Although “caring” can involve volunteering as part of an organised group or club, it can also be something as simple as reaching out to a colleague or someone in your friendship group who looks lonely or is struggling with an issue. It can create a sense of community or closeness with others and model good behaviour for our little ones. Simply things like a touch on the shoulder (with those in our bubbles), sparkling eyes, a head dipped to the side showing you are actively listening or soft, caring tone to your voice helps the feeling of togetherness.

Exercise and Physical Wellbeing 

We are always told to keep moving and eat well. Definitely easier said than done! But regular exercise has been associated with improved mental well-being and a lower incidence of depression. The Cochrane Review (the most influential medical review of its kind in the world) has produced a landmark analysis of 23 studies on exercise and depression. One of the major conclusions was that exercise had a “large clinical impact” on depression. It doesn’t have to be a full work out, especially since we are mostly at home, but a short walk or dance around the living room will have a great effect if done regularly! Dance it out!

Find your Flow

If we are deeply involved in trying to reach a goal, or an activity that is challenging but well suited to our skills, we experience a joyful state called “flow.” Many kinds of activities, such as sports, playing an instrument, teaching, or a shared learning experience, can produce the experience of flow.  It can be hard to balance a hobby when working from home but putting aside even 10 minutes a day for yourself to do something you enjoy can allow you to get a bit more in tune with your ‘flow’.
All of these little habits can contribute positively to our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing as well as modelling these behaviours of looking after ourselves for our little ones. It’s easy to forget about yourself when so many people are having difficulties but remember to take care of yourself too!

Did you know…

That what is evident from neuroscience is that ‘normal’ brain development in early childhood is dependent upon environmental input and, for parents and carers, this means warm and loving, appropriate interaction with children who are living in a safe context, in which they are nourished and nurtured and allowed opportunities to explore.
So now that we are caring for ourselves… how can we care for our children?
Young children need to feel safe and secure; we can facilitate this in many ways:
  • considering the possible threats for each child and minimising these threats as far as possible.
  • ensuring that the child feels safe both physically and emotionally.
  • providing children with territorial space, for example, their own sleep mat, peg.
  • helping them feel that they belong by having routines and rituals, for example, welcome and departure songs and greetings.
We can also help support our children when they are dealing with difficult feelings by:
  • helping children to label and recognise their feelings.
  • helping children to learn strategies to calm down, for example, simple relaxation.
  • helping children to cope with their fears and anxieties.
Appropriate reassuring hugs and cuddles are also an essential part of working with young children. It is important to consider your own and colleagues’ understanding of this, particularly in relation to the Welfare Requirement – Safeguarding and Promoting children’s welfare.
There are so many ways to support the children we care for, but we must also remember to check in with ourselves. Do something that makes you happy today!
Don’t forget you can share your thoughts on happiness with us on instagram or share your photos on our facebook!
January 5, 2021

Art and Wonder

“Art is in the eye of the beholder and everyone will have their own interpretation” 
I often wonder about art, I sometimes say, “I don’t get it”. Why do people find beauty in such different things? I consider art to be something that has been created with imagination and skill but has emotions from the creator woven into it. 
Is art used to express ideas and feelings or to evoke them, or both? 
I recently made the decision to try to shop in small, local businesses since I would love to take every opportunity to support my fellow creatives. I also understand the impact the last year has had on small businesses, being part of one myself. Since Christmas was around the corner, I ventured out to find some quiet places to shop. This brought me to a little gallery featuring some amazing local artists. It was here that I stumbled upon the ‘Duchess’ print that I purchased.
The Duchess is a perfect example of a work of art that has inspired wonder in me! To say I had an immediate emotional response is quite an understatement. She made me smile and almost cry at the same time. She was looking at me, I could almost hear her say something, she had to come home with me! I loved the style, the darkness and the textures. 
I also enjoyed the reference made in the piece to Scottish culture, bringing a humor and relevance to the work that I felt connected to. To explain a little further, in Glasgow, we have a statue beside the museum of modern art of the Duke of Wellington. There are few more iconic images of Glasgow than that of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, with a bright orange cone perched neatly on his head. 
According to Raymond Hackland, the cone represents an important part of the city’s identity – Glasgow’s unique sense of humour. There was even a replica of the statue that appeared in the opening ceremony of Glasgow’s 2014 commonwealth ceremony, that’s how dear the ‘cone heid’ is to us. 
And then… the lovely man who runs the shop told me the story of the artist!  You can find his work and story here if you’d like to know more. The Duchess is now hanging on my bedroom wall and makes me smile and warms my heart, a great example of the wonder that art can bring to our lives!
Some questions this brings to mind about art and our children… What art are we exposing our children to?
Do the dances we create together, the imaginative voices we hear in role play or the way we use materials with the children to sculpt and manipulate into wonderful models and responses evoke emotions and feelings?  
Do we just offer artistic playful interactions because we are expected to or do we want to introduce beauty, wonder and the imagination to our children’s days? 
Which of your children will create beautiful music, find new ways to express their ideas and emotions or design a futuristic but nostalgic building? Will they do this because of a little piece of you? 
Don’t forget you can share your ideas about art and wonder with us on instagram or share your photos on our facebook!